How to Use the 20 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Designing Jewelry

How to use the 20 questions

A few years ago I wrote a blogpost with 20 questions to ask yourself when you’re designing jewelry.

That post is super helpful when you’re making jewelry design decisions, whether you’re making jewelry for yourself, a gift or to sell.

If you’re making jewelry for someone else it’s especially important to think about the person wearing the final jewelry piece.  When you’re making jewelry for yourself a lot of these questions you’ll already instinctively know the answer to for the questions.

Today I wanted to go through the questions one-by-one and explain a little more about each one and how to incorporate it a little more into your design process.

1.  Are you making earrings, a bracelet, a necklace, a ring, or some other piece of jewelry?

This is a great place to start because most of us jewelry designers make jewelry because we love making jewelry, so we mostly want to make what we feel like making.

Perhaps you have a special request for a necklace or ring from a friend or customer or you just simply need a piece of jewelry to complete a certain outfit.

2.  Who are you designing it for?

  • Yourself?
  • On-the-go mom?
  • Business woman?
  • Teenager?
  • Bride?

If you don’t know who the actual jewelry piece is for, it’s difficult to design it.  Even if you’re making a piece of jewelry to sell and you don’t specifically know the final recipient of the jewelry piece, you need to know who your ideal customer is and a little bit about her and her life.

3.  Does she have any metal allergies?

This is important so you know the correct metal to choose for the piece.  If you’re making earrings for your mom and you know that anything but gold or sterling silver irritate her ears, certainly you want to use gold or sterling silver for the earring wires.

(If you’re making jewelry to sell, you want to make sure to state what kind of metal you’re using in all your pieces so that people with metal allergies know.)

4.  Where will she be wearing the piece?

  • Work? (And what is the work setting – office, retail, etc.?)
  • School?
  • Running errands?
  • PTO?
  • Wedding?
  • Out to dinner?
  • A party?

This question goes along with Question #2 about knowing the person you’re designing the piece for.  However, it goes a bit further to ask you wear will she be wearing the jewelry.

If you’re making your best friend a bracelet to wear to work, for example, it’s helpful to consider her job and how much wear and tear the bracelet will get so you know if you should make it more simple and dainty or if you can go big and bulky.

If you’re making the jewelry to sell, it’s good to have an idea of where you think the customer would wear the piece.  She will decide ultimately where she’s wearing the jewelry, of course, but it’s still helpful to consider it when you’re designing it.

5.  What are the needs of that person?  (i.e. the bracelet needs to stay out of the way when she’s typing, etc.)

Consider any special needs of the person when she’s wearing the jewelry piece.  If she has a difficult time getting bracelets on by herself and she lives alone, how can you make it easier for her to put on the bracelet and take it off herself, for example.

6.  What will she be doing while she’s wearing the piece?  (How durable does it need to be?  Is there anything to take into consideration about her activities while wearing the piece?)

Does she have an active lifestyle running from one activity to the next or a more serene lifestyle?  Think about the sturdiness of the piece, as well as anything that may dangle from the piece.

Now we’ll get more into the fun, design aspects of the jewelry.

7.  What will be the focal point of the piece?

Each jewelry piece should have an element that is the main focus of the entire piece.  Decide what that will be for your piece (considering all of the other previous questions.)

8.  Will be be symmetrical or asymmetrical?

Symmetrical is classic but asymmetrical adds more motion and whimsy to your piece.

9.  What colors will you use?

Choose your color scheme.  You may want to choose a favorite color or a birthstone if it’s a gift.

10.  How long will it be?

If it’s a necklace, how long will it be and where do you want it to lay?  If it’s a bracelet, do you have the recipient’s size or can you make it adjustable.  For earrings, will they be long or short?

11.  Will it be big and bold or small and dainty?

It could be bold with colors or bold with large chunky beads or smaller, more subdued beads and findings.

12.  Will it be colorful and vibrant or more subdued?

How bright and colorful do you want your jewelry piece to be, keeping in mind your recipient and where she might be wearing the jewelry.

13. Will it have dangley parts, and will this work with her lifestyle?

Considering the answers to the previous questions, think about any parts that may stick out or dangle and how that will work with her life.

14.  Will you do a wire wrapped piece, or will you use mixed media, adding in other techniques and materials or some other technique?

Think about the different techniques you know and decide how you will create the piece.  Will you mix the techniques to create an interesting, new piece or stick to the basics for a classic look?

15.  What materials will you use?  (i.e. what beads, etc.)

Also do you have the materials on hand already or what do you need to order or shop for?

16.  Will there be several parts that are all connected?  And how will they be connected?  Or will there be more longer pieces to connect?

This is to help you think about what findings you may need and how everything is going to be put together.

17.  What kind of wire will you use?

Think back to the metal allergies question from before.  Do you need to use any particular metal so that the recipient won’t be irritated?  Do you have the wire you need on hand?

18.  How does the recipient want to feel when she’s wearing it?

  • Sassy?
  • Pretty?
  • Free spirited?
  • Peppy?
  • Cheerful?
  • Thoughtful?
  • Quirky?
  • Adventurous?
  • Classy?
  • Elegant?

(or some other feeling…)

How can you convey that feeling in the jewelry you’re making for her?  Think about colors, the size and shape of the beads or stones, what metals and wires you’ll use and what other findings.

19.  Does she have any special needs getting the piece on?  

For example, some women have a difficult time putting on bracelets themselves.  Will she have someone to help her or can you make it easier for her?

Some people have difficulty getting rings over knuckles, so making an adjustable ring would be helpful.

20.  How heavy will the piece be?  

If you’re making earrings for someone else, err on the lighter side.  Necklaces and bracelets can be heavier, but make sure the recipient will be comfortable wearing the piece.

I hope that helps you think out your jewelry designs so you’re making meaningful and thoughtful jewelry, which is what the whole point of handcrafted jewelry is, isn’t it?

For more on Jewelry Design, check out this article on the 7 Basic Principles of Jewelry Design.

Get tons of inspiration for your jewelry designs in Inspired eCourse.

In Inspired eCourse, I give you creativity prompts and art journal prompts to create your own art journal pages and then take you step-by-step through the process of how to get inspiration from your art journal page and map out and sketch jewelry design ideas.

Inspired eCourse

In the class there is a jewelry project each week.  Students typically create their own jewelry designs and complete them each week, but I provide the jewelry tutorial as inspiration and instruction for perhaps new techniques that you don’t already know or to give you ideas for your own piece.

If you’re new to art journals, Inspired eCourse’s introduction is an introduction to art journaling.  And even if you’re not new, you may learn some fun new ideas and techniques.

After the intro there’s 4 weeks of class with each week having art journal and creativity prompts, creating art journal pages, pulling out inspiration from art journal pages and making jewelry.

Learn more and sign up for inspired eCourse here:  Inspired eCourse.

Inspired eCourse


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